Tuesday 31 December 2019

Favourite Toys of 2019

Favourite Toys of 2019

Has another year gone by already? 12 months a whole lot of reviews later the time has come to sit down and think about what were some of my favourite toy releases from 2019. As usual it's worth noting that I'm only counting figures that were first released in 2019 (so reissues like the excellent S.H. Figuarts R2-D2 are sadly disqualified) and that I've managed to review for the blog so far. There are a fair few releases from November/December that I sadly haven't got around to yet (or in some cases, haven't even arrived yet), but even so I'm fairly confident in my picks this year. So without further ado, let's bring on the list and find out what my favourite toys of 2019 were!

(and if you think including two-packs is technically cheating, you might want to look away now)

Monday 30 December 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Stormtrooper (A New Hope)

S.H. Figuarts Stormtrooper (A New Hope) 01

Release Date: October 2019
RRP: 5800 yen

Despite there being so many different characters in the Star Wars universe Bandai Tamashii Nations  could choose to make figures of, they do seem quite content in just bringing out new versions of the same ones every couple of years in the S.H. Figuarts line. But then again, that shouldn't be all that surprising when its fairly common practice for any company making Star Wars toys in general. Although a standard Stormtrooper was one of very first figures produced in the line, new films and slight mould tweaks have resulted in the iconic design being rolled out multiple times already. Not counting some of the more unique variants, the S.H. Figuarts Stormtrooper (A New Hope) version is the third. The general retail figure was released alongside the new Return of the Jedi Darth Vader - the second Return of the Jedi version in the line and also the third Vader figure in total. Maybe Bandai just really like doing things in threes?

Saturday 28 December 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Ginga

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Ginga 01

Release Date: October 2019
RRP: 6050 yen

When Ultraman first joined the S.H. Figuarts line back in 2016 there was a clear focus on the Showa era of the franchise, given how the line seemingly progressed through each series chronologically in its first few years. However things have definitely changed in 2019, as Bandai Tamashii Nations turned their attention towards completing the New Generation Heroes line up of series - running from 2013's Ultraman Ginga all the way up to 2019's Ultraman Taiga. As the final modern Ultra to be added to the now defunct Ultra-Act line, it's no surprise that an S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Ginga was going to take its time to surface but the Spark Doll powered hero has finally arrived - joining Rosso, Blu and Victory to complete the current line up as we head towards the Ultraman Taiga range.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Star Wars Black Series Heavy Infantry Mandalorian

Black Series Heavy Infantry Mandalorian 01

Release Date: November 2019
RRP: $29.99/£29.99

Overall The Mandalorian has done an incredible job of keeping spoilers underwraps until the episodes air, but one of the things Star Wars fans were treated too prior to the series was the confirmation that other Mandalorians would indeed be appearing. But while the solicitation of the Black Series Heavy Infantry Mandalorian may have revealed this, what it didn't tell us was said character would also go by the name of Paz Vizla – relating back to Pre Vizla and Clan Vizla, significant pieces of Mandalorian lore. The character was even played by none other series creator Jon Favreau, who voiced Pre Vizla back in The Clone Wars. Hasbro's second deluxe Black Series figure of 2019, the Heavy Infantry Mandalorian was released as a Best Buy exclusive in the US and through multiple channels in the rest of the world.

Saturday 21 December 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts R2-D2 (A New Hope)

S.H. Figuarts R2-D2 01

Release Date: July 2017, November 2019 (Reissue)
RRP: 4620 yen

If you're going to make Star Wars toys, then making droids is a must. Battle droids, Astromech Droids, Protocol Droids - it doesn't matter where you go with it, much like doing troopers it's an excuse to produce repaint after repaint without anyone batting an eyelid. But strangely it doesn't feel like something Bandai Tamashii Nations have taken full advantage of with the S.H. Figuarts line, and it took them two years since starting the range to get to the droids that kicked the whole saga off. S.H. Figuarts R2-D2 originally arrived alongside his best friend and compatriot C-3PO back in 2017, but after a few years off the market has been reissued on his own in the lead up to the release of  The Rise of Skywalker. Not only is this perfect timing from a promotional standpoint, but unlike the previous films in the sequel trilogy the plucky droid has a far more prominent appearance in this film. And about time too.

Thursday 19 December 2019

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Build NEW WORLD: Kamen Rider Grease

Kamen Rider Build NEW WORLD: Kamen Rider Grease

It's been over a year since we saw Sento Kiryu save the world and defeat Evolto, but Kamen Rider Build is still going strong thanks to a selection of V-Cinext (formerly V-Cinema) releases. After first being introduced to the show's brave new world in the Kamen Rider Cross-Z movie, the second instalment in the Kamen Rider Build NEW WORLD series focuses on the third of its Riders to be introduced. Kamen Rider Build NEW WORLD: Kamen Rider Grease reunites Kazumi Sawatari with Akaba, Aoba and Kiba – the trio of farmers turned soldiers known as the Hokuto Three Crows. As is typical for V-Cinema releases the film also debuts a new final form for Grease, with the DX Grease Perfect Kingdom transformation device bundled in with its physical releases.

Monday 16 December 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Blastoise -Arts Remix-

S.H. Figuarts Blastoise -Arts Remix- 01

Release Date: October 2019
RRP: 6050 yen

Not all that long ago Bandai Tamashii Nations had a toy line named D-Arts, featuring articulated video game characters from the likes of the Pokémon series, Digimon, Megaman and more. However as many lines do it eventually went defunct, and was swallowed up into the much larger entity we know the S.H. Figuarts line as today. Although Pokémon continued to see a handful of releases through Figuarts, the older D-Arts releases quickly began to climb in price on the aftermarket – particularly Mewtwo and the three evolved Generation One starters. Charizard was soon rectified with a special Tamashii web exclusive release, but it wasn't until 2019 that these original D-Arts returned under the guise of the -Arts Remix- range. Following on from Mewtwo earlier in the year, S.H. Figuarts Blastoise -Arts Remix- is the second Pokémon to get this special reissue treatment – with a few new surprises also thrown in to make this more than just a simple reissue.

Saturday 14 December 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Super Mini-Pla Jet Icarus

Super Mini-Pla Jet Icarus 01

Release Date: June 2019
RRP: 5500 yen

While Kamen Rider may have its collectible figures and high-end transformation belts, when it comes to Super Sentai the money has always been in the mecha. And though the DX toys certainly have their fans, as far as adult collectors are concerned the future definitely lies in the Super Mini-Pla line. In a few short years Bandai have pulled from all corners of the franchise in their more advanced candy toy range, tackling the likes of Zyuranger, Kakuranger and Megaranger as well as pre-Power Rangers entries such as Liveman. For their second Sentai offering of 2019 Bandai have returned to the year 1991, revisiting Chōjin Sentai Jetman with the Super Mini-Pla Jet Icarus set. As the first toys of these designs in some years, these are undoubtedly the most articulated and affordable Jetman toys currently on the market.

Sunday 8 December 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Boba Fett (Return of the Jedi)

S.H. Figuarts Boba Fett 01

Release Date: September 2019
RRP: 6480 yen

Ever since Star Wars S.H. Figuarts first arrived on the scene in 2015, there's definitely been one particular character on fans' minds. Bandai Tamashii Nations' sculpt-work and the iconic Mandalorian armour seem like a match made in heaven, so a figure based on the galaxy's most popular bounty hunter should have been a given. But years went by, and other than the odd appearance at a Tamashii Nation or Tokyo Comic Con event there was no sign of Boba Fett. Which felt especially strange since Jango Fett was released in 2016. But fast-forward a few years and S.H. Figuarts Boba has finally arrived, though not the variation you'd immediately think off. Continuing the line's baffling omission of anything The Empire Strikes Back, this figure is instead based on the Return of the Jedi version of the suit – sporting some slight design and colour alterations.

Thursday 5 December 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider OOO TaToBa Combo

SH Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou Kamen Rider OOO TaToBa Combo 01

Release Date: August 2019
RRP: 6600 yen

There aren't many S.H. Figuarts out of the 100+ I own that I can honestly say I outright hate, but S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider OOO TaToBa Combo is definitely one of them. Between the poor ankles, gummy plastic and just general cheapness of the figure it ranks pretty highly as one of my least favourite entries in the line (second only perhaps to the dreaded Kamen Rider ZX). So imagine my joy when Bandai Tamashii Nations annouced the base form of Kamen Rider OOO's titular Rider would be the next character receive the prestigious S.H. Figuarts –Shinkocchou Seihou- treatment – hot on the heels of Kamen Rider Wizard's equally needed glow-up and the long awaited arrival of Kamen Rider Kiva. But on top of delivering the usual high quality the line usually strives for, S.H. Figuarts –Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider OOO TaToBa Combo also comes with a few other surprises up its sleeves – teasing more articulation than ever before as well the surprising implementation of the show's much-loved gimmick.